A few months ago our church sung a song of lament for two consecutive weeks. Such songs aren’t foreign to our church’s song selection, but since they showed up in consecutive weeks, they stuck out to a few people. In one conversation someone asked me, “But what if I’m not sad? Why would I lament if I’m not sad about anything?”
The question, as far as I could tell, came from two sources. First, it came from a misunderstanding of why Christians would sing a lament song when there didn’t seem to be any particular occasion worth lamenting. Aren’t Christians supposed to be joyful?
Second, this man came from a church background that never sang songs of lament. Their services were meant to give members a boost for the week. A lament song would seem out of place, maybe even inappropriate. Sundays were for lifting us out of the mire, not putting us back in.
This man was not the first to scratch his head at our lamenting, and he likely will not be the last, because his church experience is shared by many, if not most, evangelicals in the West. It’s quite possible that most readers of this article do not regularly lament in their congregations on Sundays and might taken aback just as this man was if they experienced it.
But the Bible gives us several good reasons why lamenting should be a part of our normal Christian worship, even if we are not lamenting our own circumstances. In no particular order of importance, here are four such reasons.